Oakland Raiders fans have had the misfortune of sitting through some gut-wrenching drafts the last few years. While fans and analysts all believe they know what the Raiders SHOULD DO, we never truly know what Al Davis WILL DO.
Nearly everyone can agree that Al Davis has always had a need for speed. His rationale is that you can teach someone how to play football, but you can't teach speed. So, the guys with fastest 40-times always seem to become the "sure" pick for his Raiders.
As this year's draft started creeping up, the vast majority of people felt that the Raiders were destined to select Bruce Campbell from Maryland. He is a beautiful specimen with all the attributes that Al covets. Now as we near the draft, a few other names have come up in conversation.
But that is simply because as we grow nearer, everyone realizes they really don't have a clue what Al will do!
I have attempted to see this year's draft through the eyes of Al Davis and not the analysts or fans. By throwing out common sense, practicality, team needs, and gut feeling I have amassed what I believe is the truest Raiders mock draft to date. But only time will tell.
While everyone is talking offensive linemen and defensive lineman as possible picks, Al Davis is going to select Joe Haden.
If you remember back to the DeAngelo Hall experiment a few years ago, you will recall that Oakland was believed to have the best CB tandem in the league. That only lasted a couple of weeks until the Denver game when Eddie Royal repeatedly abused Hall.
Al Davis will finally accomplish what he set out to do—have the two best corners in the league. Even though Raider fans believe there are more glaring holes that need to be addressed, Al will get what he wants and that's all there is to it.
My prediction is that as the 2010 season progresses and this tandem develops, Al's selection will make sense. Not just to himself (ie: Mike Mitchell) but to everyone.
Al Davis has been missing having Warren Sapp in the lineup. Al knows the value of having a bruiser in the middle and is bound to be tired of hearing excuses from his players on why they can't stop the run.
While many Raiders fans have been calling for Al to select Mike Iupati, he will instead select the big fella that manhandled Iupati at the Senior Bowl—Geno Atkins. Geno was a beast at Georgia as displayed by him attempting to take Tim Tebow's head off.
Atkins will also be an instant contributor to the Raiders in more ways than one. Not only will he help shore up the run defense but he will also free up Tommy Kelly from all the double teams.
For the first time in years, the Raiders could actually have a dominant defensive line that stuffs the run and gets after the opposing QB.
One person Al Davis seems to be blaming for their porous run defense is Kirk Morrison. You don't have to look any farther than the third-round tender placed on Morrison to know that he is no longer Al's guy.
Al will return again to the SEC to get his future anchor for ILB. Jamar Chaney is a sure tackler and tremendous leader. He has the potential to bring the "Nasty" back to the Raiders defense that has been missing for way too long.
With the free-agency addition of Wimberly and the current players on the roster, Chaney will be in a position to battle the likes of Thomas Howard for the starting job. While I don't expect him to dominate in year one, I do expect him to develop in the near future into a dominant player and crafty leader of the defense.
The Raiders currently only have one center. The 2009 starting C is serviceable but doesn't appear to be the long-term answer. Samson Satele seems to be Coach Cable's guy and not Al's. While he played alright at times, he wasn't a force or standout on a sub-par offensive line.
The Raiders have already invited Tennant to the Alameda facilities for a private workout. While that doesn't guarantee he will be the guy selected, it is however a really good indicator that the Raiders will select a dominant C.
Tennant has all the attributes that Al looks for and coming from Boston College has the smarts to anchor the line for 2010.
You just have to wonder if it was Al Davis who wanted him in for the visit or Coach Cable. If it wasn't Al's idea, Tennant won't be the guy, but definitely look for an upgrade at center.
Even the most die-hard Raiders fans realize that Richard Seymour wasn't thrilled with being traded to Oakland. His being franchised and not signing a long-term deal are indicators that he may not want to stay much longer, as he is in the prime of his career.
Al Davis is the guy who would have been having contract negotiations with Seymour, so Al already probably figured out that he will need to draft his successor. By retaining Seymour for 2010 he is hoping that at a minimum he can the get maximum use out of him this year and get his young DEs some tutelage.
While Pierre-Paul was my original pick at the No. 8 spot for the Raiders, I recently changed my mind. While Pierre-Paul is a rare freak of nature, he doesn't have a ton of starts under his belt. That means he has the potential to not be a big contributor or even beat out Matt Shaughnessy.
That risk alone will be what convinces Al Davis to get someone later in the draft that can sit and learn for a year. That player happens to be Daniel Te'o Nesheim from Washington.
If you're not familiar with Daniel, you soon will be. He is 6'4" and about 270 lbs. At his Pro Day he just ran a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash. His coach raved about his work ethic and productivity.
With those physical tools, he is pretty close to Pierre-Paul and has had more productivity in his career. Considering how Al risks becoming minimized, this becomes the lock for Davis. He may even take him higher than Round Five.
While most Raiders fans will have lost their minds by Day Three of the draft. Al Davis will present them with an offensive Lineman, finally! Since Al Davis is set (in his mind) at LT and LG he will be looking to shore up the right side.
No sense in wasting the No. 8 pick on a guy to play on the right side, instead he uses his second fifth-round pick to acquire Nic Richmond from TCU.
TCU had an amazing year in 2009. The Raiders scouting team has taken notice and already brought in Nic for a private workout.
Nic played both LT and RT at TCU but will be targeted for the RT position with the Raiders. He will provide some healthy competition as he is very solid at 6'7" and 307 lbs. Considering the lack of talent and effort shown on the right side of the Raiders line in 2009, Richmond should be a huge upgrade and could likely be the starter.
When Al Davis traded for Randy Moss, he thought he had won the Lotto. A tall WR that could stretch the field has always been the ideal image for a WR in Davis's mind.
After Moss's short stint with the Raiders, Al Davis was humiliated by the fact that he traded him to the Patriots for a fourth-rounder only to see him excel again. There is no chance that Al has forgotten this experience and badly wants what he thought he was getting in the initial trade. If only there were "do-overs" in life...
As luck would have it, there is a WR from a small school that is 6'4" and 230 lb that runs a 4.4 in the 40. The only problem is the kid flat out can't catch. However, Wallace did manage to earn the distinguished Aztec honor of "2008 Team Most Improved Offensive player."
What this means to Al Davis is the kid is big, fast, and he can learn. What does that equate to in Davis's mind? You got it... welcome to the Raiders, Wallace!
The QB situation in Oakland is not only blurry but it's complicated. Al Davis has ponied up over $40 million to Jamarcus Russell. He has tried to back him from day one when he took him No. 1 overall in the 2007 draft.
Nobody else, including former head coach Lane Kiffin, has thought much of Davis's prodigal son. After another miserable year in 2009, Al Davis has a dilemma wrapped in a puzzle. How can he get the most for his money and get a long term solution for the future in the process?
There is really no "right" answer here, but I think the way Al will do it is to take a flier on a kid. If he spends big money on an acquisition like Jason Campbell or blows an early round pick on a QB, he stands to lose more than he will gain.
But by taking a kid out of nowhere and paying him around the league minimum, he really is risking very little. The fans won't expect much of him, the existing QBs on the roster won't fear him, and monetarily it makes sense.
Al Davis also has Hue Jackson, who can work with him for a couple of years and develop him. This diamond in the rough may turn out to be the next Tom Brady and the savior of the franchise. You never know...
So who is this wild card? His name is Matt Grothe and he played for the South Florida Bulls. Matt is a "baller" in every sense of the word. He has never had a QB ranking below 120. He also evades the pass rush and keeps plays alive like Jeff Garcia. The bonus with him is that he can flat out run. He is elusive, quick, and hit targets on the run. Imagine Michael Vick in his prime, but with accuracy.
What you all should realize is this Mock Draft was simply an exercise in futility. Seriously, nobody has a clue what goes on in the illusion that is Al Davis's world.
So before you go crazy with comments about trading for Suh or getting an offensive tackle, I want you to do one thing for me.
That one thing is to take a good hard look at this photo of Al Davis. Not a quick glance, but really spend like 30 seconds looking into his eyes. Now ask yourself this question:
"if I were laying on a hospital bed, would I trust this man to operate on me?"
I sure as hell wouldn't!!! I also don't trust him to make a single rationale pick this year. But like most of Raider Nation, I do have my fingers crossed that he actually pulls it off...
Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments... especially all the ones about which offensive tackle Davis should take this year ;)